often but ten years from now with these anonymous samples are going to tell about a person no one can imagine that. but also, just beyond that there's this bigger issue of people just want to know what is being done with their dna and other tissue and there have been lost is over this and i talked to a lot of the people involved in across-the-board they see the same thing which is black families as well that if we had just asked we would say yes. nobody -- people understand this is important research and but when they find out after the fact that there are things being done with the tissue they don't know about and they are being commercialized, no one told them, that's when they get angry and start feeling like something bad is going on. >> are there other henrietta lacks out there? >> and a lot of ways there are billions of them we just on what their names are and what the stories are. ..
you can scroll through the catalog and it will say things like, 15-year-old african-american male killed in motorcycle accident, or 12-year-old caucasian female died of lymphoma. so sometimes when you get these little snippets of their stories that nothing beyond that, and a lot of scientists are now saying did that person get permission and, probably not go what do we
know about them? >> do you see a broader book on the horizon? >> no. [laughter] i don't think i could. the thing that is different about henrietta's story about all the other people is that her name was released so we know who she is. there are privacy concerns that would keep you from ever seeing the names of any of those other cell lines or anything like that the-- there are plenty of my friends that say great now you are going to spend the rest of your life writing about each of the cell lines. no, not. the storylines would not need the same. what is amazing and impact the was really what happened after the cells were taken. it is more about it family in
the aftermath of the cells which didn't happen to anyone else because nobody else got a phonecall saying your mother's cells are still alive 25 years after she was live and we want to do research on you so a lot of the story is what happened after. >> this book is really taken off. when a tv producer brought it into our editorial meeting to discuss it, the whole group said on my gosh, we have to know this story. >> it was the same reaction i had when i first heard it and this is the one thing that people often say. aren't you shocked that people are responding to the book the way they are? are you blown away to see this book sell on the "new york times" bestseller? not to say that they didn't imagine something like this could happen but it does surprise me because i the same reaction everyone else is having. the basic facts of the story are so incredible. i have to know what happened and i have to tell people about this and that is exact what i said when i heard it.
so, i feel like the weight of the book is taken off. the story and the facts and you know, so yeah there is a way in which i can't actually see that and, because it is the story people are really responding to. >> where do you live, what is your day job and where did you grow up? >> right now i live in memphis, tennessee. i've been teaching at the university and faculty for the last three years in the creative writing program. i grew up in portland, oregon and i have lived in lots of places. i went to undergraduate school in fort collins, colorado. i moved around a lot. >> why biology? what interested you about biology? >> i was pre-vet, so i was one of those kids who was completely obsessed with animals and from the time that i was five i was going to be a veterinarian. so i was very one track about it.
for me, i was always interested in science and medicine but it was very much part of the end goal of being a vet. >> do you feel like henrietta lacks is a friend of yours? >> i feel like she is definitely a huge part of my life, and gal, there is is the sense in which particularly henrietta's daughter believes she is very much out there and she has been guiding my life. she would study science and study writing, and a lot of what happens in my life is-- and so henrietta is this constant presence in my life. >> rebecca skloot is the autho crown is the publisher, "the immortal life of henrietta lacks" is the book. >> rebecca skloot is the author of the immortal life of henrietta lacks. she served as the vice president of the board of directors of the national book critics circle was she developed it log, critical
mass. her writings have appeared in the "new york times" magazine and colombia journal of the review. the virginia festival of the book posted this event and to find out more visit va books.org. >> drexel university center for nonviolence and social justice chair, dr. john rich present several portraits of young black men trying to avoid violence in the inner cities. he also discusses the challenges posed by socioeconomic factors. the enoch grad library in baltimore host this hour-long event. the program contains language some viewers might find objectionable. >> i am grateful to be, grateful for this limitation and grateful for the opportunity to have a conversation with you this evening, and to hear your thoughts. i am grateful to see young men and women here, who can reflect
upon how many of these issues, the issues that the young people in the book talk about affect their own lives. i would also like to thanks piece band for-- c-span for being here and for my colleague, christina from johns hopkins press who has been wonderful. now, i come to this really from the perspective of a doctor, and i appreciate your reading those words. that is where i ended up, in understanding that we couldn't necessarily discard, we couldn't discard these young people as sick or bad, but we had to understand what was implants in their lives. in 89, i took a job as the primary care doctor at boston city hospital and boston city is -- hospital is a municipal hospital.
i began as a primary care doctor. is my friend miles knows, boston hospital serves mostly the people in roxbury georgia, mostly the african-american communities boston. i was astounded by the fact that in primary care, i saw very few young men. particularly young men of color. but when i walked through the emergency room, through the orthopedic clinic to the surgical wards iso lots of young black men, most of them injured by violence and most of them thought to be thugs were drug dealers by the providers taking care of them. one day i was walking through the stairwell and i ran into a colleague of mine, dr. jonathan woods didn't, and african-american surgeon who i knew from my time training at a hospital across town in boston mass general hospital. he was frustrated, and he said
you know, i saw a young guy a few weeks ago, and he had been shot and almost died. had i take into the operating room and we were able to save his life. but then, a few weeks later, he said i'm riding in my car and i hear this same young man is dead and there is knowledge that we have about this recurring cycle of violence, that people who get injured tend to get injured again. he said to me, we have to do something. i didn't really know what to do at that time but i knew that i didn't completely understand the lives of the young people i was interacting with. i grew up in queens, new york or kill my dad was a dentist, my mom was a teacher and i just had a different perspective. i had a different perspective than many of the young people i saw in boston. so i began to talk to young people using a method of qualitative research.
that is i took a tape recorder, i went through all of the human subjects, things that i had to go but really ended up sitting opposite these young people while they were in the hospital in the surgical ward, and hearing their stories. and what i learned in that time was it wasn't as simple as i and my colleagues thought. we somehow thought that, and i would put it this way, young black men didn't just get shot, they got themselves shot. it was easy when you saw this endless stream of young people coming in with gunshot wounds to assume, and to talk to them as if they had done this to themselves. it is also true that every day in the newspapers, this was true in boston at that time. it has been recently threw in philadelphia, where i now live but i know it is true in baltimore, we track the bodies. we report on homicides. and homicide is a devastating
outcome, but if we only count homicide, we are looking at the tip of the iceberg of violent injury. the cdc reports that for every homicide, there are 94 violent injuries that did not result in death. and, we know that young people who are injured, not only bear the physical scars, but they bear the emotional and psychological scars that come from violence. we also know that, if you take people who have been victims of gunshot violence or stab loans, and you follow them forward for five years, 45% of those people will have been shot or stabbed again. so something about getting injured puts you at risk for getting injured again. now, one could say well, chico these are bad people doing bad things. they get shot. we pass them up, they go back out and they do bad things again
and they get shot and case closed. this is in many ways to dismissing idea. but as i talk to these young people i've realized there was something more going on. i want to talk to about two things tonight, to ideas and then engage you in a conversation about this because i think it does matter how we see these young people and how we see their experiences. i would like to first talk about the impact of the trauma itself. over the past 20 to 30 years, there has been an explosion of knowledge in trauma and what we know about violent injury and what he can do. we know for example, from studies of combat veterans and from studies of victims of sexual assault, that victims of psychological symptoms afterwards, so called post-traumatic stress disorder, but even if you don't have the full post-traumatic stress, you may have other manifestations like depression.
so some of the sentence you may see and you may recognize these and young people or others that you know who have been exposed to violence, it is something we call hypervigilance. that is the sense that you are always in danger. the twitchy, jumping is that you sometimes see in people who feel unsafe. i mentioned the oppression. but we sometimes see one of the major hallmarks of post-traumatic stress is avoidance. that is, they don't want to come out of the house, don't want to go to school, don't want to do anything. nightmares and flashbacks are common and often young people describe using marijuana or alcohol simply as a way to keep the nightmares away. insomnia, anxiety or symptoms of post-traumatic stress. but one other, and i think particularly striking manifestation of post-traumatic stress is what is called emotional numbing. and i saw this most directly in a young man named david.
i met david when he was in the hospital. he had been shot in the side. it was not a life-threatening injury. but, in the same instance where he was shot, his cousin was killed and his cousin was his best friend. they had driven to the projects, to visit some friends there. while they were sitting in the car someone walked up to the car and fired on them. he believed it was a mistaken identity situation but i asked david if he would simply described describe to me what happened, and the way that i could get a story that was different from what the newspapers would report. here is what he said. alright, i was in an instance where me and my cousin had went to a housing development. greenstreet housing development. and i wind up getting shot. and my cousin winds up getting killed. he paused for a moment, staring
at the floor with his eyes, and there was nowhere to go from there without one. he didn't want to talk anymore about it by asked them, can you tell me a little bit more? alright he consented. and one had come and pick me up for my house. we were on our way to her our grandmother's house. we was going to us closed, and he was just going to pick me up. then we wound up leaving the house because they had to go get some change. we wound up going to stop and shop to get some change. and then we wound up hooking up with some of our friends to go see some girls over in the projects. as soon as we got there, we wound up getting shot. he paused again and looked at me. that is really about as much as i really want to say about that. can you say anything about what happened after that, i asked him. well, i wasn't really thinking too much when i was getting shot but afterwards when i got out of the car i see my cousin laying on the ground.
i guess he must have got out of the car at some point in time and ran, but i had never seen it happen. then when i seen him on the ground even though i was shot to i had to read to him to see a band one was all right. when i ran to him i noticed that this liquid was coming from his pants. so it was really tense. i can't really describe it, how it felt, but it was very unpleasant. it was a very unpleasant feeling. and then they rolled him over and when they rolled him over i seen his eyes in his eyes were looking straight up, looked all glassy. right then i was hoping that he would be all right. and then the police officers, they were all badgering me. they were talking about, you know tell us who did it right now. you know who did it. they was all younger than me. i was on a stretcher and they were asking me questions i couldn't answer, so it was very hard. i was mad but then again it was just difficult.
it was difficult until i got to the hospital. when i got to the hospital and they started working on me the only thing i was thinking about my cousin, seeing how he was doing. within a couple of hours went by and then my mother came in, my mother and father and then my sisters and brother came in and they told me and one passed away and i started to cry. he paused. his pain was not apparent in his voice, his face or in his eyes but i felt the wave of emotion and my eyes filled for a moment that i'd link back the tears. then they took me up to the hospital room and it was all over the news and then the doctor, the police detectives came in. they was asking a bunch of questions. the newspaper was calling me up in the room and everything. i was getting a lot of attention that i didn't really want. that is as far as it went right there. the truth is that what happens when a young person gets shot, the story is critically important. it is critically important for
us to understand that the drama begins long before they get to the hospital. this is someone who lost a very important person in this life, someone he loves deeply. well, what was the consequence for that loss, because again we can save gee this happens all the time. but what was the consequence? i come back to this issue of emotional numbing and what it can do to young people. later, i asked david howell of this this had changed him or go david shuttered and shook his head. a couple of minutes changed everything for me. a couple of minutes change my whole outlook on everything. this thing really messed me up. it really changed me. how, i asked? some things i used to be nervous about, scared about i am not scared of it no more. i feel that i authority been through the worse. like lot of things that made me
scared or made me nervous, they don't scare me no more. they don't affect me. it used to be as a whole bunch of dudes kept looking at me, i used to feel nervous. like if someone kept on giving me mean looks, i used to get nervous. but that don't happen no more, just don't happen. it is like some of the feeling is just gone. if they look at me mean now, i just look right back at them like, what? it is like they took some emotions that i used to have, that nervous feeling, that scared feeling, it is gone. i think i lost emotions over this whole thing. i lost emotions. i think my heart got a little stone in it now. like i told you, my girlfriend gets mad at me now. she thinks i don't care no more because i don't show it and it is hurting but i have been trying. i can feel where she is coming from but i speak with my head now. i don't speak right here in my heart. i know she is good for me but
since this whole thing happen i don't give a what she do. this is somebody i used to care a lot about. now i would be like, i don't care. if i want to be with somebody else, if she wants to be with somebody else, go ahead. i lost a lot of emotion over this and i don't even know if it is going to come back or go i am hoping that it do. i care, but if it happens it happens. if she leaves, she leaves. life goes on so i really can't call it. the direct consequence of his injury was this loss of emotion. the loss of emotion, rob david of his ability to have instinct about his surroundings. that puts him in a dangerous place. but it is often sure young people are not credited or not seen as being, let me say, worthy of having ptsd.
so the patient leaves the hospital often without having any explanation about what he might feel in the days and weeks to come, the same sorts of things that you or i might feel after a car accident or after a tragedy. the patient's interpretation is, i am going crazy. these feelings can be very intrusive. the patient's responses often try to move away if they can, treat themselves with drugs, withdraw, confront other people, get weapons, and do other things that might put them in danger. what do you think happens when providers, medical providers see these patients? they looked numb, they have no emotion. they think, no remorse. no feelings. this is somebody with no empathy. the disconnect is profound, so
the provider responses often to assume the worst, wash their hands of a the patient and instead fall back on assumptions about what black men are, stereotypes that they-- that we have pulled from the media, that we have pulled from television and our deeply held ideas about what black men are and black men aren't. and i will confess to you, that along this journey, i realized that at some level i hadn't questioned the circumstances of young people coming in who had been shot. it is pretty easy if you don't see it on a day to day. you simply assume the worse. and so, this was for me transformation and i would say to you again, as they talk about young people using substances to treat their pain, or a talk about young people getting weapons, i am not offering that as an excuse for saying it is a good idea.
of course having a weapon puts you at risk for being injured in the worse ways, but we have to understand and we have to explain it if we are going to, and a credible way, speak to young people about how to avoid violence. there is another aspect of what i've heard from these young people that i want to tell you a little bit about. and see if it resonates with you. young people talked a lot about what it meant to be a. and what respect meant for them in their lives. one young man put it this way. he said, it is a person do if someone says something to them or does something they just sit there and take it and don't retaliate. if you are living in the inner city, you wouldn't want to be a sucker because everybody will take advantage of you. i don't know if that sounds familiar to anyone here. if that is something you have heard before.
now, the young victims that i have talked to, that i've listened to talk about that but i will tell you it is not something they made up. many of us in our workplaces might recognize that people saying to you, don't let that person do that to you or everybody will think they can do that to you. have you ever heard that? elijah anderson and his book, code of the street, talks about this issue of respect and how respect is value to keep young people safe in this respect is often what young people are responding to in when violence erupts. eli anderson also said this is part of how young people construct their identity. this kind of notion that you need a preemptive strike or go you need to do something to prove to people you are not a victim. and again, i would say we can't fool ourselves and believe they young people made this up and in
fact many would say that the basis of u.s. foreign policy has some of that in it. we prove to people that we are not-- prove to other nations we are not going to sit and take this. all of us know it and all of us react in this way. all of those accepted as a reality, these young people as well. but i didn't fully understand the ways in which it made for an identity until they met roy. ray martin. roy martin is a young man who i consider to be in many ways my mentor. he considers me to be his mentor, and so while i was able to tell him some things that, to guide him in some ways, that i had found that rory was able to help me really understand what many of my patients were going through. rory roy really became my
interpreter. roy put it this way. one day he said to me, you know you are normal is not my normal. so you can't take your normal and apply it to mine, because i want you to understand how it is different. i first met rory when i volunteered for a mentor program in boston. at the time he was in pre-release after being incarcerated for three years for a shooting, a shooting in which he shot nine people. none of the people died or go i learned that roy was brilliant. he was born to parents who were 15 years old at the time. and roy again, a brilliant child, the main thing that they taught him that he took away from his up ringing was to be a fighter. roy was taught, if you start, if there is a fight you and it quickly. if your brother is in a fight and you don't jump then, and do
damage, you will catch hell when you get home. and roy summed it up in this way. he said, i was taught the rule that winning justifies everything. and roy said that is the wrong rule. i now know that that is the wrong world but i want you to know that that is how i grew up. i won't tell you the details today, but roy went from being an honor student, a bookworm, who was actually taken out of his class and put into a gifted class. let me tell you this story. where he was sitting in class and he-- the kid that got gotten their papers back and he and another friend have-- had both gotten 100. as they celebrated across the room with each other, they noticed the kids sitting in between them whose paper had a big raid zero on it or go they began to make fun of him. the teacher said, listen, i will
teach you a lesson. you are in third grade, i'm putting you in fifth grade per week and see how you like it or go see how you like thing at the bottom. they put us in fifth grade and it was hard for a week but after that we kind of caught on. [laughter] and i think somebody said, maybe we have learned something about these kids and they then decided to move them to a gifted school. but that tells you something. it tells you that a brilliant kid has to have a fluke, at least at that time in the system to get recognized as gifted. so roy went from being an honor students to a kid who hung in the streets, to a kid who robbed other people, to a major drug dealer, to jail, to pre-release. he begins to do his work and his own healing, and then took an internship at the office of u.s. senator john kerry, where he
worked for six years and became a critical person in that office , mainly because he could speak the truth of his life. i realized that it was important but roy also share his story with other providers and doctors and nurses, who i came in contact with. so i asked roy if he would go with me to washington to attend the meeting of the society of general internal medicine. and roy came along. in fact, right was 22 at the time it was the first time he had been on a plane but we flew down and he presented a workshop that was very provocative. it was very moving and it was very educational for me and my colleagues. while we were there, we have done our workshop and we are staying in our hotel in crystal city. we went down to the courtyard,
the food court, that was connected to the hotel. let a read you a little bit about that moment. we went downstairs to the mall connected to the marriott and found the food court so we could grab breakfast before heading out to do a lightning tour of d.c.. we stopped at a small deli grill , and ordered egg sandwiches on english muffins. we stood chatting is a short order cook crack the eggs on the grill several yards away and began to manipulate them with a large spatula. as he did, i noticed that he was using the same spatula to flip our eggs that he was using to cook raw chicken on a nearby grill. he could easily be contaminating our sandwiches with salmonella as the bacteria was undoubtedly coding the raw chicken. i turned to roy and should i head. he is contaminating our food with that spatula. so cuss them out roy said.
[laughter] roy instructed matter-of-factly. where he was serious, for roy would not be enough just to say you are making a mistake. it had to be said in a particular way. i said no roy, i'm not going to cuss him out but we are not going to eat the sandwiches either. i called the cashier over and asked for the cooks attention. i explained to him that he was risking making us sick by the way he was using the spatula. he immediately admitted his mistake and apologize. he discarded the eggs in the bread and started again, this time using a perfect technique. he gave the sandwiches to us without charge. still were acquitted him as we walked to the nearby table. [laughter] it is cool man, i think he made a mistake i said to right. are you telling me that that dude does not know about salmonella. isn't it his job to know? i would have cuss that the dude out. that way he would remember next
time. do you think i asked with my own skepticism. yeah, i know that is not you but that is how i am. i just can't let things like that go. i guess i was just bred to be confrontational. we sat and ate our sandwiches and soups are hot coffee. despite the early hour, many young and old were milling about them all. a small group of african-americans pass. where he locked eyes with them and track them as they walked away. the menacing glare they exchange evaporators after a long moment and then roy looks back at me. what was that about i asked roy. what? this daring. yeah, that is just me roy said. i have got gotten my problem. [laughter] i said, and i problem? that is how i grew up. i just look at people. when somebody looks at me, i just have to keep looking at them until they look away. sometimes it causes trouble but most of the time they just look
away and to go on about our business. he said you know how i told you about my parents, how they taught me to fight into crime? yeah, roy you did. while the other parents were teaching their kids to play baseball and coaching their soccer teams, my parents were teaching us how to beat up other people's kids. what roy was able to help me understand, and many times as we came together, was that young people who had no other way to see themselves, who felt so constrained by the circumstances in which they lived, who felt so deprived of real opportunities, realize that they could use violence to be somebody. that if you were known, if you have a reputation, if you had earned that reputation by putting in work, and putting in work to him, to these people meant violence.
then you could be known, and if you were known then you were somebody. if you weren't known, you were nobody. and where he began to put this into context of what is normal was. i would say that the normal for roy and many of these young men was not what i have not stated to this point, which is the racism that follows them through the world, and it follows them in ways where for example they are not hired for jobs, and many of them have in pediments to being hired like past incarcerations. but many of these young people feel the rest of the world and a sense and recoil from them. they recoil from them in a way that would imply to them that they are only marginally even human i would say. and it becomes a part of who they, are, how they see themselves. and it is compounded at a danger in which they grew up, by their senses are not helpful but
rather are harassing in their own way. lacking a sense of safety. the unrelenting drama in their lives and the idea that there is no way to forge an identity, except through violence. it would be tempting at this point to think that what i painted as a hopeless picture, but i would actually say it is a more hopeful picture than the one that many of us have walked around with for years. if the young people i talked about, in offering an explanation rather than an excuse, if they try to accomplish something, stay safe or establish an identity by using these other forms, we have other ways to do that. we can help them have identity. it is on us to open the doors and in the opportunity so they can see a future and vacancy safety as a given and not on safety as a given.
the paradigm is really about healing. we can decide that these young people are bad, in which case the remedy is punishment, or we can decide that they are sick, in which case the remedy is treatment. or we can decide that they are injured, the day, like any of us with an injury need healing. we asked to participate in that healing. we have to take responsibility for that healing. but the community has to take the responsibility with us. for finding out how we got injured and helping us to heal. let me give you a concrete example about one program that we put together in philadelphia. similar programs exist across the country, but it is called healing heard people. this simple idea is that when a young person comes in and has been a victim of violence, we
don't just pass them up and send them out. and you should no, nine out of 10 folks who come in with a violent injury does not get admitted to the hospital. those folks get sent home. they are out within hours of their injury. here it is very simple. what we do is to meet them in that moment and find out what happened. and in that moment, we also explained to them some things are going to happen to you in the next week or so that are normal, but they are going to be disturbing. you were going to have trouble sleeping. you may have nightmares. you may have flashbacks. you may feel very unsafe. that is normal. you may not have any of those systems-- symptoms but if you do what is normal. it should go away but if it doesn't go away, come back and we will help you. here is what you shouldn't do. don't go get a gun because you don't feel safe. don't smoke a lot of we and drink a lot of alcohol because
this is normal. normalizing this for young people is often the thing that gives them relief. we then identify what they need so to the extent the young people we see, the young man did not have identification cards, we have a case manager in the navigator who helps them get those things. get an i.d. card and get back in school. identify those future oriented roles, things that they need. finally, at their request, we put together what is called the self group, a 10 week cycle educational group where these young men, men and women, come together and talk about four main ideas. safety, i focus on the acronym, how to manage their emotions including anger that they feel after they have been shot or stabbed. dealing with loss, how did they deal with the losses they have experienced in sustained in their lives but how do they also deal with the inevitable loss that comes from choosing a different path?
when young people decide to move on and identified futures, they often leave behind friends they love. that can't be minimized. it is a loss all of us figure out how to deal with laws. finally, how do you identify a way to see past this proposed limited mortality? we tease to them, i've heard many times that young people don't, many young black men don't believe they are going to live beyond the age of 21. to be honest, i have not found that to be the case. i think that many young people use that as a way to contain the anxiety that comes from the uncertainty of not knowing, but they can also envision a future. when i asked these young people, tell me what you think you would be likely to in the future, they can identify things that productive ways, and meaningful
work that they would like to be engaged in. so this program is a simple-- it is not a solution. it is a simple attempt to address a problem we see an emergency department. but what is amazing and not perhaps surprising is it is not the norm. most places, most hospitals do not do this. and no insurer will pay for the service it delivers. so is it any wonder that these young people are left to their own devices. it is a simple thing that we can do. we can reclaim in many ways, protect the valuable resources that these young people are. but in order to do that, our own transformation must precede our service to them and i would say that as a society, we must very clearly rethink the biases that we have about young people, particularly young black men, seeing them rather than a drain or a problem, see them as a
resource. in fact, all of the programs that, the program i have told you about it all the programs i have mentioned really rely upon young people who have been victims to be the service providers. when they are able to heal from their wounds and injuries, they are the most qualified to speak with other young people who have been victims. but i would push us even further. our judgments influence how we see them and influence how they see themselves, whether we realize that are not. our transformation has got to be one that humanizes young black men. that sees them as fully human, that sees them not as members only of the group, sees them not as a stereotype, that sees them as individuals with individual circumstances. many of the circumstances that led to the injuries that young people have were normal in a sense.
they were walking down the street and somebody tried to get their chain. we have to see the diversity of experience but even for those people who are involved in things, and selling drugs were involved in the streets we have to find a way, in that moment of vulnerability when they are thinking about their lives, seeing this moment is a wake-up call. it is our responsibility to engage them. finally i would say the idea of individual responsibility doesn't remove their responsibility. all of our responsibility together. so i began by talking about this idea of wrong place, wrong time. the title comes from a phrase that is often uttered by young people as i sat with them. they would say you no doubt, i guess i was in the wrong place at the wrong time. what does that mean? many of them were not in the wrong place. they were in their communities. often, when providers hear those words, they think of, you were
minding your own business. they take it as a subtle, a subtle way of saying i had no responsibility and then providers decide who to blame. but i would turn this on its head and say, there is a right place for us to help young people and to hear the stories that they tell. that right places the community. not just the communities where these young people live but this large defined community where all of us see young black man as a valued resource and that is not just lip service. that is really what we invest in nbc. and the right time is both the early and now. that is, protecting young people from injury and trauma is our most profound work, making sure that young people are saved. we know that not only their emotional health but their physical health will be improved by that. but we have to intervene and
help them heal wherever we find them, whether it is in schools, in the hospital. we can't can turn our backs. i think that we can find something that we didn't know we had in the young people who we have sometimes cast aside. with that, i thank you for your attention. i would love to hear your thoughts and your ideas and make this a conversation about what we would like to see. thank you. [applause] >> i guess i have a microphone that is working. does anyone have any comments to make? yes maam. >> good evening. thank you so much for your wonderful words.
by question is, you talked about the healing place in philadelphia. like charter schools, how can we create something like this? one concept that we have begun to learn from that our colleagues have talked about, specifically one colleague, dr. sandra bloom, a psychologist is an idea called trauma informed practice. that means that wherever we see young people, we recognize that many have experienced really severe, in their lives and that that is what affects their behavior. and that safety is primary. now, one of the things i have seen in my time is that we believe the way to make schools safe is with more cameras and more metal detectors and more men walking around in uniforms with guns. that is our way of thinking about safety. but it is not clear that that makes, does what we wanted to
do. the science behind this is that we know that all of us possess and ourselves this fight or flight mechanism's. we get turned on when we are scared and we need to run inside. it is often we don't need it. the idea behind post-traumatic stress is that that system doesn't go all the way off, and that is why these young people are hypervigilant and they can go from zero to 60 in seconds. some of it has to do with that idea of respect and some of it has the idea of what it means to be a man but if we could think about how we make these places healing, doesn't have to be a hospital. as a matter of fact it is better if it is a not a hospital because it means we have done something before a person a shot. we understand the life experience of the person who is coming to us and we actually incorporate, make our services match that. many traumatized people get re-traumatized every place they
go. you get a driver's license and they talk to like you are not a person. you go to get assistance, medicaid-- so it is a constant process that if you are already a little bit hyped can only make it worse. trauma informed principles can be applied anywhere and not to be applied everywhere. i think workplaces would be more healthy if we thought more about these four things. how do we make it safe? how do we help people manage their emotions under the circumstances? how do we help each other deal with loss and how do we envision the future not only at the individual but our perspective-- respective institutions. >> i have a question. washington state, a judge and a couple of public health professionals did a study, because they saw a cycle of young people going in and out of the you know, the prison system
in the juvenile system. i just got concerned about it, so he came up with a program to test the guys who were constantly coming in and out of the system and found that a large percentage of them have learning disabilities or certain types of brain dysfunction, and once he did testing and got treatment, he found that the incidence of them going in and out of the prison system dropped dramatically. has your center and has drexel looked at this learning disability, dyslexia, adhd and other brain dysfunction as a method of minimizing recidivism and within the prison system? >> that is a very good question. young people who come to the program are assessed for what parts of their lives are not working, and so if they are having difficulty or had difficulty in school, we arrange for them to get those kinds of
evaluations. so it is critically important to identify how to make decent people successful as we connect them to resources and services. but he raised another important issue. this is where the science and this is where i do the geeky dr. thing. the science tells us a lot about what at first that he and trauma due, not only to the body but to the brain, and so when we are allowing young people, children to be exposed to in lagged and abuse and witnessing violence and all sorts of forms, the ideas that as their brains develop, it shifts all of-- it shifts there development over toward the survival parts of the brain and away from the kind of more regulatory parts of the brain. so trauma isn't only about what it does to how people behave or what actually can have rain effects that can be profound, but reversible.
it is important that we think about the fact that, and these have been shown in animal models , animals that have been neglected, behaved in a particular abnormal way. you can see the changes in their brains. we also know by intervene, i providing, for example one of the most important things we can provide for these young people who have been injured is a caring adult. mentorship is great. mentor programs tend to be really three months or six months. there is not a larger vision about what mentorship could be. i know many of you may work in places where you have a long probation but it really is about a 10 year, a lifelong mentorship for that young person. it not only helps them to learn the things that we want them to do but i would say actually may repair the damage that has happened to their bodies, and their mind, their brains over their childhood. that is powerful work.
we should see it as such. >> good evening. thank you. we hold-- the distress the stress and the strife that causes this and also my concern is that we are talking about young black boys. i think the whole thing has to be looked at from a holistic point of view. historically, and right now, it is viewed as, what is the word? endangered species and there is a certain amount of time, public enemy number one. that is what i want to say. i am in my 60s, so what i'm saying is, it is just a way that it is. culturally, from day one, the
black male has been-- because of the excels, people say is he in sports because the great white hope was for somebody to beat a black man physically so we could have a white champion. the one problem with young people, young black men, they do not see a future for themselves and white america. which is why it is live for the moment. if we could only tell them that the gangsters they emulate have no use for them. not. maybe they might understand and say this is not something i can follow. these gangsters when he been having me shining their shoes and this is just a fact of life. the family is totally away from what they are doing. what they do is what they do. they don't bring their families and and they don't bring their women and. all they see is the glamour and the clamor and the playing.
young men have to feel like they do have in the future here. it belongs to everybody. every living thing, there are things we can't say in things that we can't say. it does not belong to one person. it is here for everybody, okay? >> one of the things that i was unsure about, and i think you said in a different way was the fact that most of these young men feel guilty. they feel that something they didn't do, whether it was glaring at the person until the person withered away kept them in that situation. and one of the things i have often wondered about is what it is that people can do to make black children feel more
empowered. there is such a thing as a good feeling about entitlement, so that nobody defines you and you can begin to realize that you didn't create your own hell. i wonder whether that is part of your process? >> i think we think about it as kind of fundamental safety is necessary to be able to explore what your life could be, and there is a sense in which i would say many of the young people feel, it is almost remorseful. that is in the same way you may feel like i wish i had done something different that day. i think i would feel the same way. i wish i would have stayed in bed five minutes longer. i wish i would not have gone to that party. that is pretty normal i think to try-- that is what stories do.
it helps them make sense of the world, why this happened. does this mean something about me or is it simply one of those wrong place, wrong time experiences? the problem is in the settings where they go to get help, somehow it reinforces the negative, rather than say no, no, think about this, what is your story? it is very rare for young people to tell their story, for injured victims to get to tell their story in a health care system. mainly health care providers don't really want to hear it, because it is painful. they don't believe it often and they don't want to be taken to court. they think that somehow by asking somebody-- so again we get this where you simply make an assumption. so we have a way. we can change how we see them and how we talk to them that opens up those opportunities for them.
>> i just wanted to know like, how do you think it is? do you think us black young males had met more crimes we commit because growing up the single parent? why do you think they do what they do? >> part of what you mentioned i think is, one of the things that we have to recognize is the in this country, it is not just being a young black male. it is being a poor, young black male, living often in neighborhoods where the schools don't serve you well, where you don't feel safe, where the environment does not speak safety to you. so what is more than simply who you are. it is all of the forces, the
lack of the support of forces around you. with regard to parents, i do think parenting is a tough job under all circumstances. i wish that more young men had access to their father and their homes, but given that that is not possible, the question is who can fill that role? and i think one of the most powerful interventions we can have is simply a caring adult, a caring adults who is willing to be with that young person for the long-term, whether that is a man or a woman, a relative, having someone there for those times when there there is stress is maybe the most important thing that we can do to try and buffer some of the chama that has come into their lives.
[inaudible] >> absolutely. i believe, the idea, one of the things that haunt this is that we get really hung up on this idea about what it means to be a man, right? sometimes we construct, and this is all of us. we think about men as violent, powerful, strong, sexual all of those things as opposed to the fundamental ideas of responsible integrity. those things are independent of gender. but, having somebody model for you what that looks like, it is important i think to have a male do that. i think it is important to have a male in your life who can model for you, no, no, don't pay attention to that. keep your eye on this because you can still be this man and do another way.
that is part of the discussion that roy and i had, which is what does it mean to be a man? you have heard that a man means you strike first and you strike hard and you end quickly. is there another way to be a man? there is not just one-way, and the way that, the way that we have put out there is a destructive way in many ways, and often it is instructive to the family because it means there is often violence going both ways in relationships. so i think it is possible. >> first of all i want to thank you so much for your powerful book four i had an opportunity to speak with you earlier and we talked about the power of the media and stereotypes, and i mentioned in my own humble opinion the horrific effects of the hbo television the wire has had on baltimore in terms of perpetuating a healthy stereotype of african men and boys. i can